Musicians Heroes

Wage Rudolf Supratman

by Fakhri from Jakarta Selatan

The composer of "Indonesia Raya"
Wage Rudolf Supratman
Wage Rudolf Supratman

The Life of W.R. Supratman

Wage Rudolf Supratman was born in Batavia (former/colonial name of Jakarta) in 1903. At the time he was born, Indonesia was under Dutch colonialism. Supratman was the son of a sergeant in the colonial corps, Senen. When he was 11 years old, Supratman moved to Makassar along with his sister, Roekijem, and her husband, Willem Van Eldik (a Dutchman). There, he got his education and gained a teaching certificate in 1921. When he was 20, he had been teaching in Sekolah Angka 2.

During his days in Makassar, Supratman developed his musical talent. His brother-in-law, Val Eldik, who was also a good violinist, taught Supratman how to play violin. In 1924, W.R. Supratman read an article in Timbul Magazine. The author mentioned that native Indonesians were not allowed to create their own national anthem. That statement triggered Supratman to start composing patriotic songs. The song, “Indonesia Raya,” was composed in the same year.

"Kongres Pemuda" was held in Jakarta in October 1928. The congress was held by independence movement groups. During the closing ceremony on October 28, Supratman played “Indonesia Raya” with a violin. Everybody was impressed at that time. Soon, “Indonesia Raya” became very popular in the groups. It was sung in every single congress that was held after “Kongres Pemuda.” The song symbolized the desire for freedom and independence. On the other hand, the colonial government considered Supratman as a dangerous person. They were afraid that “Índonesia Raya” would cause a nationwide independence movement. The song was banned from being sung, and its composer was arrested in 1938. Supratman died in 1938, due to an illness.

Indonesia finally got her independence on August 17, 1945. “Índonesia Raya” was sung at the declaration of independence. A few years later, President Soekarno declared “Indonesia Raya” as the National Anthem of The Republic of Indonesia. Its composer was declared a national hero.

Inside "Indonesia Raya"

The lyrics of "Indonesia Raya" tell about the pride of the nation, and pray for a long lived Indonesia and spirit to serve and build the country. The song has been a symbol of the independence movement. It triggered our nation’s founding fathers to struggle and fight for freedom. I get the spirit of the song everytime I sing "Indonesia Raya," and want to struggle hard and do the best for our country. It’s a pity that nowadays the people of Indonesia, especially the young generation, seem to ignore the meaning of “Indonesia Raya.” At flag ceremonies, many of them are not serious when they sing "Indonesia Raya." I can say that they like western songs more than their own anthem. They don’t understand the grand history of this song and the legacy of its creator. Some people even told me that they love a certain nation better than Indonesia.

I hope that I can convince every Indonesian who reads this article to appreciate our own national anthem. I want all of them to look into their heart and ask themselves: Have I respected my national anthem the way I should respect it?

Page created on 12/21/2005 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 12/21/2005 12:00:00 AM

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